Legendary coach Gary Pinkel is gone, but his successor knows more than enough about how to run Missouri's football program. Barry Odom moved up from defensive coordinator and is looking to get the Tigers back toward the top of a SEC Eastern Division it won in 2013 and 2014.
We didn't learn a lot about this team this spring, but some positive strides were made for a program that won just five games last season.
What we learned on offense: This offense likely won't become a juggernaut overnight. It was just too bad last year. However, things calmed down this spring. Drew Lock, who was at the bottom of the league in statistics during his freshman season, looked much more comfortable and confident running new offensive coordinator Josh Heupel's hurry-up offense. It was natural for a guy getting a clean start to have a little more energy with his new coaches this spring. The question now is if he can carry that over to the spring. Lock certainly needs help, and there aren't many proven receiving options on this team, the offensive line is in total rebuild mode and the running game still needs a lot of work. Is there a true, game-changing playmaker at running back? We don't know, and it didn't help that former top recruit Chase Abbington left the team this spring. Ish Witter didn't blow anyone away last season and averaged just 3.3 yards per carry in the spring game.
What we learned on defense: Well, this side the ball still has plenty of bite to it. Even without a full stable in the spring game, the defense dominated the offense. The Tigers' defense held the offense scoreless on 12 of the first 15 drives of the spring game. Now, this wasn't an elite offense the defense was facing by any means, but Odom had to be happy that the continuity in play was still there this spring. Rising star defensive end Charles Harris missed the spring game, but brings 18.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks from last season into 2016. Terry Beckner Jr., who's recovering from a knee injury, and Walter Brady give Mizzou a solid foundation up front, while linebacker Michael Scherer returns as the quarterback of the defense. The secondary lost two starters but should be fine with the return of corner Aarion Penton and safety Anthony Sherrils leading the bunch.
Breakout player: Lock needs to find a go-to receiving target, and that could come in the form of Alabama transfer Chris Black. His solid offseason carried over into spring practice, and he proved to be the most talented receiver on the Tigers' roster. Black didn't put up big numbers during his time in Tuscaloosa, but he's a welcomed addition to a team that had zero players catch 30 passes or register more than 350 yards last season. Black, who caught 25 passes for 290 yards in 25 games with the Crimson Tide, still has a lot to prove, but has the ability to make a major impact in 2016.
Key storyline: Putting the offense back together is the top priority for Odom and Heupel. After winning the East with an offense that ranked 10th nationally in 2013, the Tigers' production has dipped. Even with an offense that ranked 67th nationally in 2014, the Tigers still won the East and 11 games in the process, thanks in large part because of its outstanding defense. But even with one of the SEC's best defenses again in 2015, Mizzou couldn't get out of the way of its own poor play on offense. The Tigers fell all the way to 125th in total offense (280.9 yards per game) last fall, 115th in passing (165.5), 120th in rushing (114.6) and 127th in scoring (13.6). Those numbers were all dead last in the SEC.